Abraham is old, really old, and decides to once again, take matters into his hands to find a wife for Isaac, who must be around forty by then. Abraham sends his highest ranking servant (unnamed throughout the story) to the land of his ancestors to find a wife. The servant puts out a kind of “fleece” to determine which maiden is the one. Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, passes the test. And off she rides, maids & nurse in tow.
Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
I’m sure there are a number of wedding rituals that were still in place even in those times but unfortunately, these are not shared through this story. Rebekah agrees to travel right away (which smacks of “get me out of this family,” an escape route that many young women take) and takes on the adventure of a lifetime.
Rebekah is going to an unknown land just like Abraham did those many years earlier. She only has the promise from a servant, an array of fine gifts and gold, and the hope of a future. She had tremendous courage, I think, as well as curiosity. Rebekah embraced change.
I wish I knew more of what must have happened within the summary text, “Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother.” Was there a ceremony? Or was it merely a matter of having relations with the woman to secure their marriage bond? Is there significance to it being his mother’s tent, or did that simply signify the tent for women? Was it a harem like situation where all the women of the household lived together?
And more interesting still is that Rebekah became the woman who brought comfort to Isaac at the loss of his mother. I cannot help but think that Isaac was estranged from his father Abraham after the great testing on the mountain. At least, I don’t believe they were close. Instead, Isaac gave his heart to his mother. And when she passed, he felt alone and engaged in the building of his own herds and belongings. And although he did not take a wife, I’m pretty sure he was no “40 year old virgin.” There were slaves and concubines undoubtedly and maybe even children, but these would not inherit the promises of God. They were of such insignificance, they are not named or identified. Even Rebekah came from some wealth, since she traveled with her own entourage of nurse and maids.
And so it is, that the progression of God’s plan for building a nation is finally moving again. The entire process had stopped at Isaac’s apparent reluctance to take a wife.
But once Rebekah arrives, he accepts her, he marries her, and more importantly, he loves her. This love statement could have been excluded but it is here for a reason. At this point in the story, Isaac loves, that is, he cares about his new wife more than himself. He is sensitized to her needs and her desires. He wants to please her. He wants to nurture her. He wants her to thrive and be happy. He loves her.
How often does the story begin this way? My story did too. What happens? How do we lose that adventure and love? Did God change his mind? It was a match made in heaven. So was mine. How do we lose sight of God’s gift to one another? Why do so many life events cool our ardor, our belief, our joy?